How SCORE helped. 

Imagine a small business that originates from a business plan that sounds like a story treatment for a Netflix miniseries. That scenario would be the best comparison for SCORE clients Austin Carter, Jess Callahan, and Julie Ross, owners of the Pocket Books Shop at 903 Wheatland Avenue in the West End of Lancaster City. To her delight, SCORE mentor Joann Brayman was assigned the trio's lead mentor. She relished the challenge of mentoring a three-client partnership for the first time in her SCORE mentor career. As a bonus, book shops are a natural element for the book lover in Joann.

SCORE volunteer mentor, Joann Brayman

If Not Now – When?

Small businesses are still being created in record numbers as we move into a post-pandemic new normal. Many new entrepreneurs are seizing the moment during a period of historical uncertainty and not waiting for the future to satisfy their dreams.

"We're three bookish friends who have always daydreamed about opening an indie bookstore–during the height of the pandemic, we finally looked at each other and said, 'why not now?' Burnt out in our former careers, uninterested in playing by the rulebook of a world that no longer seemed to exist, and thrilled at the prospect of creating a beautiful, welcoming space where we could live out our dreams, we decided to dive straight in!" 
     - Austin Carter, Jess Callahan, and Julie Ross, owners, Pocket Books Shop

Pictured left to right: Jess Callahan, Julie Ross, Austin Carter

Money and Nerves!

The three women were in Columbus, Ohio, when the decision to open a book shop was made. A suggestion by Austin Carter to visit Lancaster resulted in a weekend trip and a unanimous decision that this was the home for their business and for each of them. 

In February of this year, they contacted SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon to request a mentor. The women were characteristically direct in their response to why the need for a mentor. 
"Sometimes the obvious answer is the truthful answer: money and nerves! None of us had ever owned a small business before, nor had we worked in an independent bookstore. As we were getting closer to our opening date, we started to worry that we were missing something by not having an expert in the room. We reached out to SCORE and won the jackpot, as our mentor Joann Brayman immediately sprang into action, finding a financial expert to go over our budget and review our marketing plans. Having Joann and the rest of SCORE in our corner has been so relieving!"
     - Austin Carter, Jess Callahan, and Julie Ross, owners, Pocket Books Shop

One of the significant advantages of having a SCORE mentor is that you can tap into the skills and expertise of the entire cohort of volunteers. Joann Brayman called on SCORE mentor Tom Roche with his experience in finance and banking, to ensure that the financials for Pocket Books Shop were in order. Once the finances were complete, the women tapped into Joann's area of expertise – marketing. 

Pictured left to right: Jess Callahan, Austin Carter, and Julie Ross

Help You Find Books To Love

Books can count as milestones in people's lives. The picture books that were your very first memories, the YA novels you obsessed over, the genre fiction that remains your favorite today. An independent book shop is an intimate, familiar place for an avid reader and should be a welcoming spot to lure new readers into discovering books. Pocket Books Shop hopes to be all this and more here in Lancaster. 

"Three qualities immediately spring to mind: one, our intentional, curated selection of books and other goodies. We put a lot of thought and care into stocking our shelves, seeking to prioritize space for historically marginalized and underrepresented voices. We do not carry books perpetuating racial/sexual/gender/class discrimination. We do have robust genre sections (including romance, horror, science fiction, and fantasy) and stand behind every book on our shelves! Two, we work hard to make Pocket Books a beautiful and welcoming space: from our spacious wraparound porch where customers are always welcome to read and hang out, to the diapers and menstrual products available for free in our bathroom to the custom bookcases built by local company CustomCut Millwork, we want customers to have a special experience from the moment they walk through the door. There's a reason people love indie bookstores–we're more than just books on shelves, and we offer a vibey experience that you can't get at a big box store or online. Our goal is to help our community, to find you all books to love, and to be a safe place for anyone who needs it."
      - Austin Carter, Jess Callahan, and Julie Ross, owners, Pocket Books Shop

SCORE volunteer mentor, Joann Brayman


Jess Callahan, Julie Ross, Austin Carter and SCORE volunteer mentor, Joann Brayman